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ReserveVoice: October 15, 2015

Legislative Update

National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

The House and Senate completed the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act on October 6, 2015 and but Congress held off on sending it to the President for signature.  Typically bills are sent to the White House a few days after they are passed in Congress.  In this case, Congress has not sent the NDAA to the President.  Currently Congress is on recess until October 19, 2015.
 

White House

ROA attended a meeting at the White House on 14 October to discuss Veteran status and hiring Veterans into the federal government.  ROA identified that Guard and Reserve members still have problems with proving veteran status since they do not always get a DD Form 214.  ROA also believes it is time to update the decades old statute that prevents Major’s and above from getting a 5-point preference for their Veteran status.  

The Civil Service Reform Act included Veterans preference, “To help reward veterans for their military service, the Veterans' Preference Act of 1944, as amended, requires that eligible veterans be given enhanced consideration for federal jobs.”, according to, Veterans' Preference: Data on Employment of Veterans (Letter Report, 02/01/95, GAO/GGD-96-13).  It is time to rethink this 1978 change which discriminated against Majors and above; a section of Veterans who should also be rewarded for their service. 

Army Update

ROA and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard were the sole military or veterans’ groups at the Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery’s Honor Subcommittee meeting at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday.  Subcommittee members focused especially on ANC’s diminishing capacity.  During fiscal year 2015, Arlington, which is under the jurisdiction of the Army, saw 6,828 interments and “inurnments” (cremations), up from 5,813 in FY 2013, but down a bit from FY2014.  Under an expansion underway, room is expected to run out in 2035.  A second expansion extends that fateful day to the 2050s. 

Also discussed was ANC interment eligibility.  Given the nature of service provided by an “operational” reserve in a time of constant hostilities, the old rules have grown visibly and unacceptably out of balance.  ROA advocated for the burial at ANC of Louisiana ARNG Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich , who in March was killed in a UH-60 Black Hawk crash, but initially denied burial at ANC because he was on inactive duty for training orders.  Secretary of the Army John McHugh ultimately reversed the bureaucracy’s decision, approving the Guardsman’s burial at Arlington.
 
In a conversation with committee member and former chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Hon. Chet Edwards of Texas, ROA’s executive director, Jeff Phillips, conveyed the point that eligibility reform must ensure that the type of orders under which a service member is “paid” must not influence the manner in which he or she is honored in death, as nearly became the case with Staff Sgt. Florich. 
 
Further, Arlington will, sooner or later, become full.  Now is the time to review eligibility criteria to ensure equity and appropriateness, recognize that Arlington’s capacity will inevitably run out, and explore options.  As Chairman Edwards said, in doing so, what cannot be compromised is the “iconic” nature of Arlington; it is the nation’s shrine; it’s solemnity, dignity, serenity, and beauty must be fittingly preserved. 
 
Edwards, son of a WWII naval aviator, also voiced the opinion, with which we agree, that the people of America and the Congress would “be offended” if recipients of the Medal of Honor could not be buried at Arlington: should then a dedicated area be set aside to ensure perpetual space for recipients of our highest award for valor?  Could the impeccably maintained VA-run National Cemeteries, which now have different eligibility criteria, somehow play a helpful role as Arlington’s capacity disappears? Could a sizable Arlington annex be built elsewhere in the National Capital Area? Could ceremonies be held at ANC, but the actual interment occur at the annex . . . ?  
 
ROA will take an active role in helping shape this discussion; the outcomes must in any event assure equity for Reservists who die doing their duty, serving our nation.

"A Special Thank You and Alert"


To all of you who so very generously supported our recent ROA Sustaining Membership appeal, you have a heartfelt and enthusiastic THANK YOU!

Your support could not have come at a more critical moment. With the United States facing a growing number of threats around the world, it is more important than ever that our Reservists receive the funding and support they need.

Making plain that our Reserve Components will see ever greater use incoming Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said this week in Washington,  "I intend to modify the calculation, the speed and expansion through the selective use of National Guard and Army Reserve readiness by adding training days and asking for money to increase CTC [combat training center] rotations, to put teeth into the words of our Total Army concept.”
 
Certainly General Milley’s intention, given the downsizing of our active force, could be echoed in other services. More use means the need for more support. That is why it is critical for ROA to advocate and aggressively work on behalf of every Reservist – serving and veteran.  The response to our Sustaining Membership appeals has been strong.  In the coming days many of you will receive a follow-up to those appeals. If you have already responded, thank you; please view this reminder as evidence of how important your support is to ROA's efforts. We hope that a reflection on the precarious state of world events, America’s insufficient defense resources, and the need for ROA to reinvigorate our strong voice for the Reserves will encourage  your continued contributions.
 
Again, we thank you for your generous support and I promise to keep you updated on our actions on Capitol Hill and throughout Washington in the days and weeks ahead. –Col. James Sweeney, USMC (Ret.), President; and Jeff Phillips, Executive Director

ROA announces Shop Thru The Heart partnership for no-extra-cost charitable giving to ROA  

You can help ROA improve Reserve Component funding and policy; Reservist education, benefits, career advancement, family care, and employment; and VA benefits and healthcare! ROA has developed an online shopping mall and purchasing center offering more than 120 premium stores, such as Amazon, Sam’s Club, Marriott, Starbucks, Macy’s, Office Depot, Home Depot, and Best Buy, for your business and personal shopping.
 
Every time you use our roa.shopthrutheheart.com portal for your purchases, ROA will receive a donation from Shop Thru The Heart. Participation in this program is easy and adds NO COST to your purchases.
 
We ask ROA members, staff, vendors, clients, families, friends and other supporters to use the ROA Shop Thru The Heart portal to make all of their online purchases for business, personal, travel, gifts, etc. 

Please register today at roa.shopthrutheheart.com and support ROA with your online purchasing (registration is free of charge).

Member Update

The Army Reserve has provided information ROA Departments and Chapters can use when visiting local Congressional members and staff: Army Reserve 2015 Posture Statement and Army Reserve at a Glance.

Reunions:

The biannual reunion of the USS Turner Joy, DD-951, will take place 21-25 September 2016 at the Holiday Inn Virginia Beach-Norfolk Hotel & Convention Center.  The hotel is located at 5655 Greenwich Road, Virginia Beach, Va. 23462
Details and registration information can be obtained at the USS Turner Joy website: http://www.ussturnerjoy.com
 

 
Richard D. Haight
USS Turner Joy DD-951
Reunion Coordinator
12359 Cold Stream Guard Ct.
Bristow, Va. 20136
Rickh20136@verizon.net
Outfit:


Reunion Date:
Location:
Contacts:
12th TFW (MacDill AFB and Vietnam),
12th FEW/SFW (Bergstrom AFB and Korea)
and all their supporting units

April 20-24, 2016
Charleston, SC
E.J. Sherwood  ej12tfw@cox.net or 480-396-4681

Law Reviews:

Legal analysis on the issues impacting your life in and out of uniform


While ROA regretfully eliminated the full-time position of Service Member’s Law Center director, retired USNR Capt. Sam Wright has generously agreed to provide periodic law review updates and assistance on a voluntary basis while ROA develops an alternative SMLC solution.
  • No. 15085 Purchasing Federal Civilian Retirement Credit for Active Military Service before You Began Your Federal Civilian Career
  • No. 15086 Sixth Circuit Reverses Unfavorable District Court USERRA Decision
  • No. 15087 Seventh Circuit Reverses Unfavorable District Court USERRA Decision
     
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Reserve Voice is a monthly bulletin produced by the Reserve Officers Association of the United States, the nation’s leading advocate for Reserve Component policy and resourcing, and support of RC service members and their families.

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